Yemen: The Stigma of Humanity
By Yehya Salah El-Din
The aggression on Yemen has officially entered its seventh year. During the last six years, the international community turned a blind eye to the horrific massacres and violations committed against the Yemeni people which include killing, destruction, starvation, and a siege.
In an interview with Al-Ahed News, Acting Yemeni Minister of Human Rights Ali Al-Dailami detailed the war crimes that the Yemenis endured during the years of aggression.
- Destruction of infrastructure: The Saudi-led coalition deliberately destroyed infrastructure, including thousands of hospitals, schools, universities, power plants, roads and bridges, communication networks, and fuel supply facilities. In addition, it destroyed food factories, food storage facilities, transportation networks, drinking water, and irrigation facilities, as well as other civilian facilities that provide basic services. International humanitarian law prohibits the targeting of these sites.
- Starvation and siege: The Saudi-led coalition sought to starve and destroy the Yemeni people by targeting many resources that are essential for the survival of the civilian population. The total blockade imposed on all of Yemen's land, sea, and air ports is a continuous inhumane practice that causes shortages of basic goods, especially food and medicine.
The Saudi-led forces are blocking the entry of these basic goods that are needed to save lives, and the coalition also intensified its targeting of the port of Hodeida with the aim of halting its maritime navigation service. It completely closed Sanaa airport and strengthened all these inhuman measures by moving the Central Bank of Yemen from the capital to the Aden Governorate, which it occupies and controls through armed proxies. This resulted in salary cuts for state employees that started from the first month that the Central Bank of Yemen was relocated.
- The spread of famine and food insecurity was one of the consequences of the military attacks and sieges on agricultural crops, food storage facilities, livestock, drinking water, and irrigation facilities, in addition to the contamination of wells and irrigation tanks with chemicals and harmful materials that are internationally prohibited. Many lands and agricultural crops were also destroyed due to the use of internationally banned weapons, including phosphorus bombs, white phosphorus, and enriched uranium. These caused a humanitarian disaster, which has long-term effects on women, children, and the elderly.
- During the aggression and the blockade, Yemen faced a major crisis in providing food due to the illegal measures imposed by the coalition that also led to the country’s economic decline. This is widely regarded as one of the main causes of acute food insecurity, in addition to inflation, rising food prices, and the depletion of foreign exchange reserves.
According to an analysis, children in Yemen are the most affected group, as they are at particular risk of acute malnutrition, and they are in dire need of food and medicine. The percentage of the population that is food insecure this year is estimated at around 77% (13.3 million people), with an increase of 21.4% compared to 2017. Around 22.7% of the total population are in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), while 25.6% will soon be in Emergency (IPC Phase 3). With the continuation of the aggression, a large proportion of the population will suffer from acute food insecurity at the end of this year and be classified as living in Famine (IPC Phase 5). The percentage of food insecurity increased during 2018-2019 to 21.4% of the population.
Of course, women and children are the most affected groups by the Saudi-led aggression and blockade and are especially vulnerable to certain diseases, such as malnutrition and anemia.
This includes pregnant women and newborns. Statistics show us the high levels of malnutrition in children and women. More than 2.6 million children under the age of five suffer from malnutrition, including 500,000 who are suffering from severe acute malnutrition, and more than 1.8 million pregnant and lactating women suffer from malnutrition.
- There has also been a sharp decline in access to clean drinking water, decreasing from 10% to 66%, after the water and sanitation sector services were damaged as the coalition targeted dozens of tanks, water wells, springs, and water-raising pumps that run on solar energy. This is in addition to power cuts and lack of fuel, the high average cost of the production unit and the high cost of maintenance (95%), and the inability to pay workers in the sector. Water facilities have been damaged, and water projects in the public and private sectors have ceased to operate (the activities of many local institutions have stopped). The environmental situation in cities and urban areas further deteriorated due to the accumulation of solid waste and garbage. It is estimated that 20.5 million Yemeni people do not have access to clean water.
According to the Consumer Price Index data issued by the Central Bureau of Statistics, the cost of living has recently increased to more than 80%, compared to what it was before the aggression on Yemen. 92.2% of families do not have sufficient funds to secure their basic needs as a result of the aggression.
- There is also the spread of various epidemics and the increase in the number of chronic diseases, including all kinds of cancers caused by the coalition’s use of internationally prohibited weapons. Meanwhile, a high number of patients are suffering from kidney failure and diseases related to the heart, liver, and other vital organs.
The death rate is rising due to diseases and the lack of medicine.
Prior to the Saudi-led aggression, the rate of cancer incidence was 2.3% per year. It has since increased by 5.5% as a result of the coalition’s use of internationally banned and carcinogenic weapons. In March 2021, the number of people with carcinomas increased to 72,000. Meanwhile, the percentage of patients heading to consultation centers for periodic follow-ups and the external administration department for chemotherapy decreased to 20% during the aggression because people can’t reach health facilitates safely amid the bombing of bridges and roads.
The provision of ultrasound services, as well as surgical interventions and radiation therapy, decreased by 50% during the aggression. It also became difficult to obtain radioactive sources and linear accelerators. The radiotherapy service may be permanently stopped due to the poor efficiency of the currently available radioactive source, which may cause a humanitarian disaster for cancer patients.
The provision of some diagnostic services that were provided free of charge to patients in the center has stopped, and 50% of the chemical medicines required for patients, especially targeted therapies that need to be transported at certain temperatures, have been discontinued. The provision of essential medicines, antibiotics, and intravenous solutions decreased by 80% due to the blockade and the scarcity of financial resources.
Meanwhile, 40% of the diagnostic and medical equipment stopped working due to maintenance issues and the unavailability of spare parts. There are approximately 28 dialysis centers that may have to halt operations completely and no longer provide services to 120,000 people with kidney failure and diabetes, in addition to thousands of people with cancer and thalassemia. On the other hand, there are more than 75,000 patients who need treatment abroad. They are facing death as a result of the closure of Sanaa International Airport that is preventing them from traveling for medical treatment.
So far, there are more than 2,326,568 cholera infections and suspected cholera cases, and the number of deaths from this epidemic has reached 3,786.
The coalition used internationally banned weapons in many of its attacks. Medical reports confirmed that the weapons and ammunition used by the coalition caused deformities of fetuses and newborns, especially those weapons that were used in the governorates of Saada, Hodeida, Sanaa, and Taiz. These are the same weapons that the US forces used in their aggression against Iraq in 2004, especially in Fallujah. The attacks caused the deformation of hundreds of newborns and fetuses. Humanitarian organizations have warned against the use of these weapons in Yemen. These are the same weapons the Zionist entity used in the Gaza Strip in 2009, also resulting in the deformation of dozens of newborns and fetuses.
In many of the wars and armed conflicts that occurred in the past, civilian victims, especially women and children, are neglected. The sound of planes and missiles and sudden explosions result in a number of deaths, especially among women and children, and affect pregnant women and fetuses. Preliminary statistics, registered by the Ministry of Public Health and Population, showed that 450 women in 2015 suffered miscarriages due to fear, and anxiety caused by the bombardment.
Following the detailed presentation on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen as a result of the Saudi-American aggression and blockade, Acting Minister for Human Rights, Ali Al-Dailami, reviews Yemen’s Hiroshima, a report recently issued by the Ansarullah Political Bureau’s Rights and Legal Department.
In his interview with Al-Ahed News, Al-Dailami pointed out that this is the first human rights report that shows the scale of the coalition’s crimes that are being overseen by the US, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE and their mercenaries from within. It also shows the coalition’s brutality towards civilians. The reporter's name obviously refers to the atrocities committed by the Americans in Japan during World War 2 – namely the nuclear strike on Hiroshima, which killed millions of people and destroyed the city. This is what America, its aides, and its tools are doing in Yemen. They are targeting both the land and people, with various types of lethal weapons that have long-term effects such as cluster bombs. The title of the report illustrates the brutal model being applied in Yemen, and against the Yemeni people.
Al-Dailami explains that the report documented the crimes the coalition committed against children, women, and the elderly using pictures and eyewitness testimonies. These crimes mentioned in the report are only a small part of what was documented by specialists who followed international standards and methodology in the monitoring and documentation process. There are still dozens of crimes and violations that have killed people, and the report focused largely on one of the most serious crimes stipulated in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which is the premeditated murder that falls under war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and the crime of aggression.
Al-Dailami notes that there will be other issues and publications on the various direct and indirect crimes that have affected Yemen and its people as well as their implications and repercussions on people's lives.
The report includes three main parts:
- The rules of international law and the violations of the aggression thereof
- The alleged pretexts for the countries of aggression
- The crimes of the countries of aggression as narrated by the documentation team, victims, and witnesses
In response to Al-Ahed’s question about the role of human rights organizations in what is happening in Yemen, Al-Dailami points out that these groups acted against the basic framework of their work and did not adhere to the humanitarian agenda but rather to an agenda that corresponds to the demands of the coalition. The following are examples:
- International Resolution 2342: It indicates the poor humanitarian situation in Yemen that has become catastrophic in most of the country’s governorates and regions. But it doesn’t include any condemnation of the coalition and its daily crimes. This indicates UN and international collusion with the forces of aggression, which means more destruction, collapse, and the continuous deterioration of basic services.
- The closure of Sanaa International Airport: This is an unjustified closure. Meanwhile, the United Nations missions continue to use Sanaa Int. Airport for their flights exclusively without opening humanitarian and commercial services to the Yemenis. This makes the United Nations the main accomplice for the countries of aggression and fully responsible for the worsening humanitarian situation.
- Blockading ports and maritime outlets: The United Nations is fully aware of the extent of the impact of the imposed blockade on port traffic in Hodeida, Salif, and Ras Issa in particular. This situation imposed on the maritime ports is witnessed by the United Nations, but it continues to mislead the world in service of the Saudi-led coalition, which uses the blockade as a means of war on Yemen and the Yemenis.
- According to Al-Dailami, the speech of the Secretary-General of the United Nations at the opening of the fifth high-level humanitarian pledging event for Yemen was also an indication of the disregard for the suffering of Yemenis. Antonio Guterres acknowledged that famine is weighing on Yemen and the race is underway to save Yemen from the famine that most of the Yemeni people may be exposed to. He affirmed that there are quite a few Yemenis starving to death in conditions similar to famine.
- Meanwhile, reports from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Yemen documented civilian casualties and the killing of a large number of civilians in the Shada District of Saada Governorate as a result of airstrikes and an intense attack by a military helicopter. It is clear that the United Nations body records the criminal incident and identifies the perpetrator. However, it does not take any measures related to the protection of civilians and redress for the victims. In addition, the United Nations is unable to hold the coalition’s forces accountable for their crimes against civilians.
Al-Dailami adds that the Yemenis are still following up on the statements of this agency and its officials, which are full of expressions of concern, and fear.
Jamie McGoldrick, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, expressed his grave concern about reports of airstrikes on civilians in Saada Governorate, including attacks on a house and a private car in two separate areas that resulted in the killing of civilians, including women and children.
The UN agencies keep reminding the parties to the conflict without taking any action that would stop the aggression and its tools from killing civilians in all Yemeni governorates. The following is from one of its officials:
“We recall that indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks or attacks targeting civilian objects such as markets are prohibited under international humanitarian law. We remind all parties to the conflict of their obligation to ensure full respect for international human rights law and international humanitarian law. All incidents resulting in civilian casualties … must be thoroughly investigated to ensure accountability when breaches of international law have been found to have taken place.”
At the top of the list of acts of complicity is the removal of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from the list of countries and unofficial bodies that failed to adopt the measures necessary to protect children. It had a direct role in child recruitment, detention, kidnapping, sexual violence, and attacks on schools and hospitals.
The Secretary-General cited a continuous and significant decrease in the number of deaths and injuries in the airstrikes and the implementation of the provisions of a memorandum of understanding calling for the adoption of a program of activities aimed at strengthening prevention and protection measures.
He also added that the program will be subject to monitoring for a period of 12 months and that any failure in this field will lead to the inclusion on the list of the same violations.
“The secretary-general has brought shame on the UN by removing the Saudi-led coalition from his 'list of shame' even as it continues to kill and injure children in Yemen,” HRW’s Children's Rights Advocacy Director Jo Becker said as she reacted to this UN decision.
For her part, Adrian Labar, the director of Watchlist, an NGO concerned with children and armed conflict, said that the removal “sends the message that powerful actors can escape the killing of children.” She called for an “independent, objective, and transparent evaluation of the process that led to the decision” of removing Saudi Arabia from the list of shame.
The Saudi-led coalition remained on the blacklist for three years, as it was added to the list in 2016. It was later removed after protests by Saudi Arabia. The Secretary-General of the United Nations at the time, Ban Ki-moon, accused Saudi Arabia of exerting unacceptable pressure on the United Nations, as allied countries have threatened to cut off funding for humanitarian aid programs.
According to Al-Dailami, evidence of collusion, condemned by all Yemeni society, people, and institutions, is evident through the stance of the international community towards the coalition’s practices – it gives the coalition more room to commit crimes against Yemenis every day. This stance is a reflection of the lack of responsibility and appreciation of the magnitude of the humanitarian situation in Yemen, which goes beyond just being a political crisis.
In response to a question about whether the continuation of the aggression will contribute to the subjugation of the Yemeni people, Al-Dailami asserts that the Yemeni people have conveyed their message to the world.
The plan to occupy Yemen was concluded in the US capital and cooked in the kitchens of the American intelligence. It was decided that it will only take two weeks. But here we are, seven years later! They thought that things would go according to their plan. However, God's plan and kindness to the army, the popular committees, and the missile force, the supervision of a wise leadership – represented by Sayyed Abdul Malik Badreddine al-Houthi – with strong confidence in God and its representative, and the steadfastness of the Yemeni people have foiled all external bets. There is no doubt that solidarity and support are important from a leader like His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and the Islamic Republic.
Al-Dailami notes that the ongoing siege is killing the Yemeni people, and it has become tighter since Biden took office and announced that he would seek peace in Yemen. This is his way of building peace through blackmail. These are their initiatives, and this is their alleged peace. International silence clearly and explicitly confirms that laws, international agreements, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the United Nations Charter have died and are only a cover for the interests of major countries, even at the expense of dead women and children.
Al-Dailami stressed that the Yemeni people depend on God and move with their steadfastness to defend against injustice and their just cause. As for the countries of aggression, they are losers. He points out that the Yemeni people convey the most wonderful examples of sacrifice, and steadfastness. They insist on the independence of their country and respect for its sovereignty. They are steadfast, defiant, proud, and a great people.
Addressing the forces of aggression, Al-Dailami says: “Haven’t you had enough of killing civilians, especially children and women? Haven’t you had enough lessons to learn from great men? You are facing the Yemeni people! The saying tells you, ‘Yemen is the graveyard of invaders.’”